PARALLEL STATE NLC CONGRESSES HELD ACROSS THE COUNTRY
PARALLEL STATE NLC CONGRESSES HELD ACROSS THE COUNTRY
TIME FOR THE REBUILDING OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT AS A DEMOCRATIC FIGHTING PLATFORM
92 copies of SD Sold in Lagos and Oyo
By Ayo Ademiluyi
For what can be aptly described as the continuation of the factionalisation of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), parallel State Delegates’ congresses were held across the country based on the two factions that emerged from the National Delegates’ Conference, Ayuba Wabba’s faction and Joe Ajaero’s faction. This goes to show the depth of the crisis ravaging the trade union movement and the challenge facing working class activists and genuine socialists to step up intervention with the aim of reaching out to the rank-and-file layer that is caught in the middle of the crossfire of the two factions.
In Lagos and Oyo States, where members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) intervened with copies of the new edition of the Socialist Democracy (SD), the paper of the DSM, the situation was the same as the two factions each held separate congresses.
In Lagos, members of the DSM intervened at the Wabba-led faction’s State Delegates’ Congress, which held at Food Labour House, Valley Estate, Lagos and the Ajaero’s faction State Congress which held at the Textile Labour House, Ogba, Ikeja. In all, thirty two copies of the new edition of the SD were sold.
The Ajaero’s factional state congress and produced Tokunbo Korodo from NUPENG as the factional State Chairman of the NLC while the Wabba faction returned Idowu Adelakun of the Amalgamated Union (AUPCTRE) as its Lagos Chairman.
Chinedu Bosah, the National Publicity Secretary of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), who intervened at the Ajaero’s factional State Congress in Lagos was given the opportunity to briefly address the state congress during the allotted period for solidarity messages from civil society. He observed that the split in the NLC was not borne out of issues that directly affect workers and the poor but a tussle for power. He challenged the trade union leaders of both factions on the need for interventions in workplace struggles as one of the means of building a fighting and democratic trade union movement. He also emphasised the imperative of trade unions beginning the process of building of a mass working people political party to intervene.
In Oyo State, members of the DSM in the state intervened only at the Wabba’s faction state congress and only got to know of the parallel Ajaero’s faction state congress while at the Wabba’s faction venue. Sixty (60) copies of the SD were sold.
The impressive sales of the paper which has two leading articles on the Presidential election show that the ideas of the DSM can still find enthusiastic reception among workers despite the illusions circulating around the incoming Buhari’s regime.
In Oyo the Wabba’s faction state congress, where DSM comrades intervened was held at Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba while the Ajaero’s faction parallel congress held earlier in the day at Museum Ibadan.
Media reports also confirm the same developments in Edo, Kaduna, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara and Delta States.
The situation in Edo state is interesting given that Adams Oshiomhole, the former President of the NLC and Edo State Governor had been credited, in reports in the media, to have challenged the Wabba leadership, while on courtesy visit, to take up Governors who still owe workers’ salaries before the May 29, 2015 handover date.
However, the drama that broke out at the Wabba’s faction state congress in Edo state give a signal of what working class activists can expect in the coming period. Adams Oshiomhole’s representative at the event, Didi Adodo, was shouted down by the workers of the state owned tertiary institutions and the local government employees when he stated that the state government did not owe workers’ salaries. The workers insisted that they were being owed several months.
What the developing scenario points to working class activists is that the period ahead could be a short honeymoon for the incoming Buhari’s regime and other newly-elected state governments. The workers will enter arena of struggle as the austerity attacks bite harder. However the obstruction of passive and divided leaderships potentially poses grave dangers.
So far there are no clear policy differences between the two factions, although these can emerge in the future. However, it is clear one of the factors in this crisis is that the NLC has, in Oshiomhole’s words when he recently met Wabba, “gone to sleep in the last eight years”. No real lead was given by the past NLC leaders. Even the January 2012 general strike began as a spontaneous protest from below, only for the then NLC leaders to step in and call it off for minimum concessions. It’s true strongly worded statements were sometimes issued, but these remained just words with no serious rank and file mobilisation for concrete action.
The DSM is against splits in Labour based on personal rivalries. It calls for immediate democratic discussion and debate at all levels within the NLC and all unions on the way forward for Labour and on the split in the NLC. We will call for the unity of the workers’ movement on the basis of internal democracy, opposition to careerism and privileges for leaders linked to a fighting programme to defend and improve living standards.
If the current split in the NLC remains, we will still call for united action by workers in all unions, and non-union workers, whenever conflicts and struggles with employers or the government develop. The DSM will advocate a flexibility of tactics by socialist activists and readiness to intervene wherever workers are embarking on struggle despite the confusion of factions.
The Joe Ajaero’s faction has announced that it would hold a factional National May Day Celebration at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos while the Wabba’s faction would hold theirs at Eagle Square in Abuja. It appears that two parallel May Day rallies will be held in Lagos and other states. Socialist activists must be prepared to deploy resources to intervene in the changing events as they unfold and argue for a fighting plan to combat the impending austerity.